Being authentic has never been an easy feat, but I would venture that being one in this culture has its own challenges unique from any other time and place. We’re suffocating under layers and layers of counterfeit care, feigned friendships, and insincerity. And maybe I’m just a bit cynical, but if we’re not careful we could find ourselves completely cut off from sincerity and authenticity. Our culture picks and hacks away at our humanity, but our humanness can be redeemed if we know how to build genuine relationships and authenticity within ourselves. And living a real, messy, authentic life is a better thing to strive for than any other resolution you make on a late December or early January morning.
How do we do this? How do we start becoming more real with each other and with ourselves? I have a few ideas of what helps authenticity grow. Here is my recipe for authenticity:
A multi-faceted concept, acceptance is the first ingredient to finding the real you. Accepting yourself, accepting what you cannot control, accepting the blessings being given to you, accepting what will not be for you, and accepting those around you for who they are - flaws and all - are essential to this recipe. You do not have to fake perfection, but accepting the foundation of you and the foundation of those around you is a great way to learn how to be real with yourself and others. This frees you from trying to control what you cannot, and lets you focus on what’s truly important - knowing yourself and building strong relationships with others.
It’s cliché, but believing in yourself and in the life you’ve chosen can make all the difference in authentic relationships. There is something authentically beautiful in having the confidence to stand firm in who you are, and hold true to your convictions.
Being humble enough to admit mistakes, apologize at the right times, accept praise and compliments without allowing them to be the building blocks of a pedestal, and mixing this perfectly with confidence to not become discouraged by negativity and criticisms are all encompassed by this idea of humility. As C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” Remember that confidence and humility work harmoniously together; one does not negate the other. Both work and blend together to create a more authentic you.
I will never forget a piece of advice that I latched onto from a book I read in the 8th grade called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. One of the seven habits sprouts from this simple but completely genius phrase: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Listen to others; don’t be afraid to lose your voice for a while as you take in more than you dish out. Let the world fill you up with its songs; you have plenty of time to sing back. Listen, listen, listen; take it all in. Listening to others creates authentic community by inviting the people around you to feel cared for, be real, and eliminating judgment.
…living a real, messy, authentic life is a better thing to strive for than any other resolution you make on a late December or early January morning.
Take time to journal and reflect; invest time into internal change – but don’t forget the external changes. Schedule those coffee and lunch dates; make that phone call; listen more deeply and genuinely to your kids, your parents, your significant other, your friends. Show that you care for the people around you through service, encouragement, and boosting their confidence.
If you are genuinely striving towards an authentic life filled with acceptance, confidence, humility, and lots of listening, the changes will be evident, and the result, like any good recipe, will be decadent.
Photos by Sandra Pagaimo